Rogue One — A Format Wars Story

  During a screening of Doctor Strange at a Visual Effects Society event, someone asked the film’s Director whether he preferred the 3D version, or the 2D version? He said: “I am torn, as I love the 3D version, but also the Expanded Dynamic Range version as well.” I gravitate toward stereo3D movies, due to my history of making stereo3D films. I wrote an article about stereo conversion for The Force Awakens, recounting its masterful use of the stereo3D format. In my opinion, Doctor Strange was a tour-de-force example of fantastic stereo3D conversion, so based on the Director’s comments, I… Continue reading

VFX Archaeology — The Lost Empire Strikes Back

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series VFX_archaeology

Exploring the Evolution of a Lost Shot From Script to Screen [Image from the Empire Strikes Back Blu-ray. Color correction emphasizes blue spill that was normally lost to viewer.] The near final shot of The Empire Strikes Back (TESB) of the Millenium Falcon flying off into the sunset — or rather the ten thousand sunsets of a spiral galaxy — is one of the most iconic, and oft-printed promotional images from the film. Due to the amount of time it takes to preduce the material to coincide with the film release, magazines, album covers, and posters must start as soon as pictures are ready, whatever their… Continue reading

Gorilla VFX: Episode 3 — Fun With Toys and Mirrors

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Gorilla VFX

Simple and Fun VFX Distraction. We all love high end Visual Effects, but anyone who loves them as much as those who do it for a career, sometimes enjoy the simplicity of doing things the film school/garage band way. As kids we devoured Cinemagic, and Cinefex magazines, and hand back-wound super-8 mm cartridges, to try and do visual effects like the pros.  That was how the pros did them.  Even Ridley Scott pointed out at the Visual Effects Society Awards in 2016, that ALIEN was made with models, paintings, and white paint flecked on a black board. Now with computers… Continue reading

The Force Awakens, and the State of 3D conversion

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Stereo Conversion is Awe Inspiring and You Should See It. In a darkened IMAX3D theater I saw Star Wars: the Force Awakens for the second time. My first viewing was at the Motion Picture Academy screening with JJ Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy, Roger Guyett, and many others. I was already pretty impressed with the film, and I had a few complaints, but they were minor. As I watched it again, on a gigantic IMAX screen, at twice the brightness of a standard 3D projector, drowned in chest thumping sound, I was hooked. I took a moment to look… Continue reading

The Missing Millennium Falcon

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series VFX_archaeology

Evolution of a Design     Story update: Joe Johnston on Twitter said that he did not do the original drawing that inspired the illustration in the middle of this article (which is a re-creation for research purposes only, and not an official StarWars art piece), and that he only used the cockpit and radar dish as elements. This design I saw might therefore be the work of one of the other artists on Star Wars. It could represent an alternate direction rather than a step in the evolution of the current design. That said, this is not to mislead, but now… Continue reading

Gorilla VFX : Episode 2 — What I Learned From Spider-Man

This gallery contains 10 photos.

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Gorilla VFX

Two Simple Tricks For Professional Results. After Jumanji it was all about gamma blasting to check the black levels, but with the 2002 Spider-Man talk at SIGGRAPH, two new composite analysis methods came to the forefront to improve quality — and almost nobody noticed. There he was, John Dykstra, at the front of the theater at SIGGRAPH talking about the work Sony Imageworks did for the first Spider-Man movie. Discussions on character rigging, virtual cameras, web dynamics, digital New York — all fascinating. Giant teams of artists making onscreen magic, and properly defining the parameters of a superhero film.  However, out of all… Continue reading

The VFX War: Part 4 —The California Drought

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series The VFX War

The Great Dust Bowl 2 There is little to no rain in California. For the last several years the once verdant fields of this great American state (both in size and productivity) have produced fewer crops as water restrictions expand every year. Los Angeles, is a desert, and has always imported more water than actually flows there to survive. Weather conditions fluctuate, as they have throughout history, and the ebb and flow of high pressure has kept the rain clouds away. Occasionally, when there is rain, it comes in torrents, and quickly over-saturates the ground which cannot recover from it’s… Continue reading

Lost Art of Laine Liska

An Accomplished VFX Artist Leaves A Clandestine Legacy   • Richard Edlund, a close friend of Laine, kindly contributed this card, drawn by Laine for the Holidays. Thank you, Richard. • People working the visual effects field are often artists in many different disciplines. I am also a cartoonist, having published several strips, and I enjoy funny behind the scenes jokes scribbled by artists under pressure — I honed a lot of my skills perusing the sci-FI cartoons in the editorial pages of Starlog Magazine, and that was a great collection of cartoons by humorists, but not necessarily created in… Continue reading

Saving Mr. Binks

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Focusing the Hatred of the Galaxy, a Digital Star is Born! There are long diatribes on the Internet tearing George Lucas to shreds for the creation of Jar Jar Binks.  Such vile hatred for a character in a movie —an individual that does not exist — is curious.  Normally this level of vitriol is reserved for politicians and rapscallions (though the character was a politician in Episode II and III).  Fans of Star Wars despise this creation, and make it their hobby to eviscerate him. As I said:  Curious. It seems easy to overlook all the good that Mr. Binks is.  Jar… Continue reading

The British VFX tradition — Poppa Day to Alien

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Great British VFX Documentaries Online. From Poppa Day to Matte Painting in the 60’s and 70’s, Dennis Lowes webpage is an amazing documentary resource of visual effects in Britain. Want some in-depth information on the making of Alien you did not know? He has multiple interviews on video with images to back it up. His videos introduce us to a great collection of talented people, and disciplined work, from which we all can learn. Great education, motivation, and fun, and there is more than what is shown in the images below (including some of Dennis’ own work if you are… Continue reading

Correcting Star Wars Tennis Shoe Myths — apologies

In 1996 the Internet was still young, and George Lucas was making changes to Star Wars. As I was an avid Star Wars fan — it was instrumental in my career choice — I created The Bogus Star Wars Homepage to chronicle it, collecting what the fans were finding, and directing my hopes to what Industrial Light and Magic might do with its new tools. (The page is pretty long in the tooth design-wise, and is a time-capsule of thoughts prior to rerelease) Little did we all know how much would change, but it was incredible to see Star Wars… Continue reading